What I Needed to Hear at Five Years Old

Listen to me, you little brown-noser.

I know you’ve made it your mission in life to keep people happy. I know you don’t like being the one to upset your family, or your teachers, or your friends. You’re right, they have enough problems without you adding to it. But I’m sick of your wimp ass getting stress stomachaches and staying up all night worrying about the happiness of people who don’t want to be happy, whose happiness hardly hinges on you.

You need to understand something before you end up grown up and hollowed out and bitter, and that is this:

There will be days when the universe hurls itself at you with everything it has and is. It’s not meant to be anything personal, but it will be. You will work your ass off on these days, and it will be a parade of idiots looking to take every advantage. They will do so with poor manners and worse grammar. You will feel like a prostrate machine, with people mistaking you for a man and questioning your intelligence because your hands are greasy. When you start home at 5, the clouds will break and it will begin to pour. Cars will cut you off, drivers will curse at you. There will be construction. You’ll fall off your bike into the mud, rip your new jeans, wreck your headphones, lose your sunglasses for the 17th fucking time. You’ll be five minutes too late to buy tickets to your favorite band.

Your friend won’t call you back, won’t look you in the eyes, won’t need you like you need him or her. You will be someone’s fool, willingly, voluntarily, and at the end you’ll end up flattened in the middle of the road less taken. And with your arms still open, you idiot.

You will be someone else’s pain in their ass, will ruin their day without trying or wanting to. You’ll unknowingly make someone your fool.

You will never be enough, and neither will anyone else. Every day the universe will shake you down.

So for godssake, get angry. Get yours, get it all, and get it before you give anyone else theirs. Take things personally. Cuss at the dog. Throw your potatoes at the meteorologist on t.v. when she tells you it’s going to be 105 tomorrow. When a guy cuts the line, don’t stand there and glare at the back of his head. CUT BACK, YOU WIMP, AND SAY SOMETHING WHEN YOU DO IT. Tell people when they act like assholes, including your own grandmother. Be nice to the decent people you meet, and help the ones who need a hand. But stop wasting time trying to forgive the guy who isn’t sorry, maybe doesn’t even know, he cut you off. Stop being so goddamned tolerant and make this lousy life worth living.

You know how you do that? Ball up all the loneliness, frustration, and fury, push it down into your legs. You get up, slam your bike upright, swing your leg over and sprint like hell home, rage at the asphalt and the wind until you see spots, gasp for air, feel your soul ripping right out from between your ribs. Let the fury burn out of your legs. Then you sit your ass down at that desk and turn your phone off and don’t answer the ones who never answer you. Write with abandon, careen toward the edge of sanity and humanity. Take the bullshit this world serves up and spin into something miraculous. While the world razes itself, rip your own heart out and make something, something that will force them to notice and hold their breath and want more. Make something worth the making.

Stand up and fight, you little bastard. You’re too strong to just wither away on your knees. Rip up whatever they try to pin you down with and keep going. I don’t care if they call you crazy. Do it anyway. You hear me? You do it anyway. That’s the whole fucking point.

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